Something is different with this 2014 training cycle

I’m only two and a half weeks in, but it feels different this time. Maybe its because I’ve made improvements in other parts of my life? When I first launched my training in November of 2012 I was working in a job that I was growing to hate. I loved the work and a lot of the people I was doing it with, but the culture of that place wasn’t for me. As the holidays passed I slid deeper into my hole, going directly from engineering to either my part time job or home to TV and bed. I stopped seeing friends. I stopped going out. I stopped running. I took a week’s vacation Christmas to New Year’s and just sat in bed watching bad TV. Which made me start to evaluate if this job was worth it. By January 2nd I had updated my resume. 8 weeks later, I had a new job. I was lucky and found a new job that was great. I started running again. I started cooking again. I started seeing friends again. And I signed up for that half marathon. (It should be noted that taking this job is what put me in Jennie’s neighborhood and got me meeting her to run and convinced me to sign up for that race)

Maybe it’s because I feel less alone this time? It’s not just me in my living room trying to figure this out. I’m not making those tentative first connections with my online running group/family/tribe. And it’s certainly not running alone. 18 months after I first signed up, and a year after I really started training for a race, I regularly meet Jennie for cross training or running, I have a co-worker whom I’m beginning to regularly run with, and I’ve got runner friends all over the US and the world who will find a way to reach through the internet and kick my ass if I don’t get out there. Plus. A bunch of us are now training for the same race. And we’re actually going to meet. In person!!! If I slack off and they don’t I’m going to feel angry at myself for not keeping up. I want to keep up. I want this to be fun. Real bad.

Maybe the motivation is different this time? I’m only two weeks in and maybe I felt like this last year. If I did, I really don’t remember. Probably a little? But this time is different. Last year I wanted to finish strong. Then when I hurt my back and was waylaid for 5 weeks, I just wanted to finish. Looking back now I see the mistakes I made in my training. I’m not crying over spilled milk – I’m trying to learn. Because this year I want to finish strong. Actually strong. So I can hang with my runner friends after and not feel like a giant cloud of pity party.

Maybe it’s my fitness level? I can’t say that I maintained any sort of fitness from last year; I didn’t really end up with much fitness there near the end. And I certainly got a little squishier over the winter. But parts of this feel a little easier. Not so easy that I want to amp it up and add weights. For now I like that my workouts feel right. They’re challenging, I sweat my face off (well, make up), and I push myself as far as I should. The result of which is that at the end of the workout, I feel like a machine. Which makes every thing else in the day feel awesome. Even when I’ve forgotten shampoo and then 12 hours later spill beer onto my pants down to my underwear at a Sox game – hypothetically, of course.

Whatever it is, something feels different. Good different. But different.

Because for maybe the second time ever I didn’t try to get out of a Saturday run. I got up, tried some new pre running food (some success, some failure), and just went running. And a funny thing happened. While I waiting for my breakfast to digest I actually did some chores around the house. I took care of some emails. And I was just plain productive on a Saturday before 10 am. After the run it was time for a quick shower and then off to Boston Calling music festival day 2. And there’s only one way to do that.

Nuun and diet coke.

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Not pictured? The banana and string cheese I inhaled.

Hearts and confusing questions

PS training update: a full week of green!!

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My first red mark and approximately 17 others things that are more like 6 but I have runner’s brain and can’t math

I bailed on a race on Sunday. Thoroughly and completely. My 2 mile runs for the last two weeks have been abysmal and because running is such a mental game, I was afraid I would take too long to get over finishing in the bottom 10 people again and my training would get off to a lackluster start. Sunday’s race was 5 miles. 5k I would have slogged through. But 5 miles was too much. Going through the week, I was trying to psych myself up for it. I was racing with a lot of friends and I didn’t want to be a quitter in front of all of them. Last Thursday I tried to run 3 miles. I ran 1.6. I was at the gym with Jennie who is healing from injury (like a boss, I might add) and was biking. I walked over to where she was. She took one look at my face and asked “shit show?”. And I said “The shittiest of shit shows.” So she told me to get my butt on the bike and sweat it out. Pulling out my best insolent teenager act, I sat and pouted through 30 minutes. The next day Jennie emailed and basically told me that no one would judge if I didn’t run. And if it ruined my mental game that would be bad. I was still on the fence and finally decided Sunday morning I wouldn’t run, I would spectate. Still I left the house very slowly and didn’t get over there until the race was over. I was pretty upset over the whole day – wishing I was one of the runners – and very nearly regretted going. But once I found my people and just hung out, it was worth the trip over. I was upset enough that I really didn’t take pictures. Promise it happened.

That red mark is going to sit there until early November, staring at me. Reminding me that when I say I’m going to train I should just suck it up and for the love of Christmas just get out there. Based on all this, I made a decision to step back a couple weeks in my training. I swore I wouldn’t move around workouts, but I think it’s totally fine to move back in the program. Because if I’m about to survive 5 months of training it has to be fun (at least sometimes – occasional bad runs are inevitable). Last year after my back stopped hurting and I started up training again I started too far into the training and it wasn’t fun. Every run. For almost three months. I’ve got the time in my schedule. Really I cut into the 5 week gap I had in the middle and put two more weeks at a shorter interval at the front. I think I did the right thing. I think I’ll enjoy these runs and they’ll give me the training kick in the butt I need to make LA the funnest fun it can be.

There’s the week. And the damn red mark. But look at all the green!

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I had my first park-at-Herter-Park-and-run-along-the-Charles runs of the season. Really I should just keep running through the winter but I was in such an epic funk this winter that I didn’t. I will say this. I forgot how freakin’ high those bridges climb! And how tiny they look on RunKeeper after. I promise you they feel eternally uphill huge. Despite that, it was still nice to be back out there. Cool down stretches, however, were a challenge. The Canadian geese are migrating back north and are pooping near every. single. waterway. Trunk blanket to he rescue! Can we talk about how magical it is that my trunk supplies are now a blanket, sweatshirt, and beach chair instead of a shovel, snow brush, and bigger snow brush? All the magical.

Side note on this amazing weather. I talk a lot about hating the cold, but Boston this weekend? I can’t even begin to describe how unicorn rainbow sprinkles on top fabulous it was. Saturday I went to meet some family visiting from Michigan and walking down the Comm. Ave median park under trees with bright green new leaves and fading flower buds under an almost painfully blue sky was something I’ll look back at next January. Theoretically. I’ll probably still swear a lot. My love for the John Hancock Tower knows no bounds. And so I take a lot of pictures of it. But look. Look at that blue sky!!

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Ok. Back to running. Last week I was mad. I left my Garmin charging all day but when I went to use it the next day, the battery was dead. I brought it to work to charge Monday and after having it plugged in for an hour I checked – still “low battery” I had noticed some black on the back of it but I had figured it was dirt. Turns out if you write on your arm and then put your watch on and then sweat/have 1500 cups of water spilled on you (ooh. I still owe a how-to-work-a-marathon-water-stop-in-a-million-easy-steps post) the marker smudges and effs up the contacts on the watch. Luckily for me, I work with science! and we have alcohol wipes left, right, and center. A quick clean up and problem solved.

After my pretty good run I had allllll the energy and did some laundry, finally washing all my running clothes at once instead of sneaking them in loads here and there. I know that can be bad for the fabrics but I HATE laundry and thinking anything about it was too much. I’m trying to take better care of my things and not just shove all these tech fabrics into the dryer. Problem: I don’t have a drying rack. Solution? Make one. Any tool can be the right tool (that’s a throw back to my childhood watching the Red Green Show with step dad John). Right now my clothes are drying on a) my reconditioned steamer trunk (thanks John!) b) the bendable arm of my standing light c) the thumb switch of said light d) my towel and bathrobe hooks e) the top of my empty (thanks to runner’s energy cleaning) trashcan f) a rolled up and stood on its end yoga mat g) my pop-up tail gating tent (packed up into its bag thingy) and the pièce de résistance h) a ski pole. I was like Oprah and my clothes were free cars.

Methinks it’s time for a trip to the Tar-jay.

Just 12 hours later; le sigh. I have committed to not packing a gym bag in the morning because I always end up at the gym at work with no post workout non sweaty underwear or un-moused hair or no work shoes. Despite being sleepy and wanting my bed real real bad Monday night, I packed a bag. Tuesday morning I kicked my workout’s ass. I mean, after I was done with it, it wasn’t even recognizable to its mother. And after a good run on Monday I was riding a sweet sweet high. A high that came crashing down when I discovered I had no shampoo or soap. So I turned on the shower and then holding my towel with one hand, I fill the other with the foamy hand soap from the sinks (glamorous!) and then getting in the shower, held that hand above me while I rinsed off and then soaped up. There was no WAY I was putting that in my curls, so my hair just got wet and then went to work dirty. I’ve been doing this workout before work thing almost a whole year. I have a toiletry bag I keep in my gym bag. And even before that, I did this occasionally. So WTH?? In my defence, I changed bags for the summer and forgot to move it. Still. Total and complete #epicfail . This also explains the extra shot coffee that made it’s way to Instagram this week. Because sometimes – lots of coffee.

Hearts and I don’t know, random stuff

Let’s get visual, visual

If that title doesn’t make you sing Olivia Newton John the rest of today then your brain and my brain are wired very differently.

I’m singing that 80s-hit-that-no-one-understands because I’m trying something with training and the planning that goes into a big race. Because I’ve discovered in the last couple of years that I really do well with paper visual aids. At work when I’m reviewing a big document I nearly always print at least part of it. When I’m working out a tough problem or searching for the right words, I’ll pace and toss around a wiffle ball/bat – my co-workers always worry I’m going to take a swing, but I haven’t been tempted. Yet.

I think all this visual/physical interpretation comes from the quarter of me that’s Italian. Or at least I tell myself this. I’m a hand talker. I don’t understand people who aren’t. What do you do with your hands while you’re talking?? Just let them lay there? It confuses me. This is also why anything beyond calc 1 and 2 in college would have destroyed me. How can math lead to theoretical points in theoretical space that isn’t actually space??? All of this makes me wonder about my approach to training. With all the modern conveniences of technology I track all of my training online. It works out pretty well. My google doc that has all my workouts is easy to access from anywhere. And my Garmin and RunKeeper keep my stats and running routes. Plus connect me to other active friends. My running group is virtual. I communicate primarily through Facebook or email. But with all that virtualness, it’s easy to say “tomorrow” to say “oh, my schedule is moveable” and sneak into my spreadsheet and cut/paste cells left and right. Which let’s me come up with excuses. Not this time. No sir.

This time I’ve printed my schedule. I’ve hung it up. I bought red and green markers.I’ve taped it to the wall.

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I’m set.

I want this training to be a priority. I want it to go well. To do that, I can’t slack off. I have to do the cross training – and not just half assing it on the elliptical. I need to do the rest of the workouts. I need to run. On schedule. I’m running this race with so many friends. And after the last hot mess of a race, I know I won’t have as much fun if I go into the race wishing I had trained better. So there it is. 24 weeks in black and white (plus 2 weeks of recovery). And blue and orange and yellow. And already 3 green days!! Let’s hope there’s a lot more green that shows up. No. Not hope. Let’s WATCH more green show up!

Hearts and runnerding

It’s Happening Again

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Back in October 2012, I received an email from Nicole at Lifelessbullshit.com telling her followers about a half marathon training plan and group she was putting together. I signed up so fast I can’t even tell you. I looked at all the training materials and realized I was woefully under prepared for half marathon at the end of that month. I decided to DNS that one and plan my next.

Fast forward 18 months and I’ve run a half marathon with the plan and made (what I suspect) lifelong internet friends. When I crossed the finish line of my first half which went less than awesomely, I didn’t say “never again” but I did say “Not again for a while”. It would appear that a “while” is one year and 3 weeks. Because I pulled the trigger this morning.

Half Mara Reg

That’s right. My registration finger got itchy and I signed up for the LA Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon in October. Eep. Nicole emailed out about running this thing with our group and I emailed two of my virtual runner friends Kathy and Rachel to ask “are you doing this thing, I’m 98.9% I am.” You see, I’ve been trying to meet these women for more than a YEAR! We’ve been running together virtually, cheering each other on after successes big and small (good run days and half marathon finish lines), and commiserating over injury or bad weather or any other little thing. And though I would have probably gone either way because I love my running group, I was really hoping I’d get to meet these two (and Nicole!) finally. This running group has been amazing. And I think probably all of my facebook friends and IRL friends would agree, because I have a single place where I can go and talk about running non-stop and I don’t bore them with every little detail about fueling and watering and being bored or exhilarated by a route (except Jennie. She has to listen to it no matter what. Of course, I listen to her too. So it works out). And now I have an opportunity to run with these people that I’ve been talking to online forever. Our emails went back and forth a little and then I woke up yesterday to a message from Rachel “So…we’re doing this? ARE WE DOING THIS? YOU GUYS!” And A) I was in. 100% and B) the 0 to 13.1 bull shit free runners are the best. This email, of course, sent us into a tizzy of emails flying back and forth all day, a happy dance in my cube, and so much excitement I had to sit down for a minute. Because, you guys? It is on.

I am so unbelievably excited to finally meet people I’ve been cheering on/being cheered on by virtually for more than a year. And it feels good to be training for another big race. Good. And also scary. I don’t want a repeat of that last race. I don’t want to let myself train poorly again. I want this to be an unbelievably fun weekend. And only a well prepared for race will get me there. So it’s back to spreadsheets, a better dedication to eating well, and a slightly higher rate of saying no to drinks. Slightly. I still have a summer of Sox games and patio drinks to get through.

The race is In 24 weeks. Uh. What? I guess I should put down the beers, un-bury my Garmin, and pound some pavement. Has anyone seen my body glide?

Hearts and half marathons!